Mike Lupica is at it again, stirring the pot and riling up ravenous Yankees’ fans in their time of last place torture. There was no addressing Alex Rodriguez‘s hitting, or Chase Headley‘s short-sighted extension, or even anything about how to improve this franchise, simply a rally cry to compete now regardless of logic or circumstances.
More than a week ago, he came up with an article which perfectly exemplifies the wrong way to think as a Yankees’ fan, a forgivable mistake since most of the fans haven’t seen a true loser in 23 years. Let’s take it from the top:
“…Still the home of the $200 million annual fund for ballplayers, the combined resume for both men, over their time together, would look just swell:
The firm of Cashman & Girardi has produced one World Series title. That was back in 2009, after the Yankees hauled over during the offseason and spent more than $400 million to get CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett.”
Here is the first mistake anyone surrounding the Yankees’ makes when they point to payroll. They look at money the wrong way. A $200 million dollar payroll IS the problem, it isn’t the excuse, it isn’t the solution, it is only the problem. The fact the Yankees have a $200 million dollar payroll and could (read: it’s early so maybe won’t) finish in last place is a testament to age and poor investments. Older players make more money, period. They are paid for what they did in this past. This Yankees’ team is quite literally a shrine to the past, except it’s mainly a bad past and not a “Yankees'” past.
And an example of spending $400 million as the means for their last World Series title is more of a problem than a solution. And the only reason it worked was guys like: Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera were still producing, Brett Gardner, Dave Robertson and Phil Hughes were cheap and effective and the team only needed some supplements to a still productive core. That’s when you spend, not now, when there isn’t a productive core.
More from Lupica:
“They made the American League Championship Series in 2010, losing in six games to the Rangers, then again in 2012, when they were swept by the Tigers.
There was another year, 2011, when they lost to the Tigers in the first round, even playing Game 5 at Yankee Stadium.
In three other seasons they missed the playoffs. Last year they were one of two wild card teams, in a two wild card world, and lost their one playoff game, also at home, getting shut out by Houston’s Dallas Keuchel.
So they haven’t won a playoff game in five years.”
This was a nice trip down memory lane. Girardi and Cashman are failures because after they won the World Series they continued to drive their teams to the playoffs, often times into the second round from 2010-2012 and again in 2015.
In case we’re keeping score, Mike Lupica is upset about Girardi’s managing because he went to the playoffs three consecutive years after winning the World Series. That aside, he’s just plain wrong when he states they haven’t won a playoff game in five years. As Lupica mentioned himself, the Yankees won an entire playoff series in 2012 by going to the ALCS. Even if you count the 20ish games of 2016 with no playoffs yet as an entire additional season (which would be breathtakingly misleading for a professional writer), New York has still won a playoff game in the past five years and accurately hasn’t won one in three seasons instead.
“We are told constantly about all the good young guys coming along for the Yankees, because we’re always told about all the good young guys coming along for the Yankees. Everybody knows that eventually Alex Rodriguez’s contract will come off the books, and Mark Teixeira’s, and Carlos Beltran’s. And Sabathia’s.”
Here is Lupica explaining exactly what the Yankees’ game plan is over the next several seasons. He knows this and we know this because ownership and the front office have stated it multiple times publicly. He also correctly states, the Yankees have not used this method well in recent memory, moments after giving a shout out to Joe Torre‘s success, which included a homegrown core panning out; the last time it did happen successfully. So naturally, he should recognize committing to making those good young guys finally come up should be a good thing while the bloated contracts fall off, right?
“Still: The Yankees need to win the American League East this season, as presently constituted, with this rotation, and even with all their Jurassic Park All-Stars. Look at the rest of the field and tell me why they can’t.”
Wait, what? He recognizes the issue is old, aged, players with bloated contracts and not enough young guys. He knows the last time the Yankees had the image and brand building years of success was because of said young guys and this was his reaction? That the Yankees need to somehow win with these old guys and then he asks why they can’t?
Well, how about because they’re old and not good anymore? And even though the rest of the division isn’t superhuman, this team is still worse? And maybe by spending the time to get really good, this team could be better than those other teams one day? That’s kind of why we’re waiting for money to come off the table and the young guys to come up.
“You know what the Yankees really need to do by the baseball summer? Start filling those seats down near the field again because of a team that their fans want to watch. The attraction as the year goes along, the draw, needs to be a first-place team, not waiting for Alex Rodriguez to make a run at 700 home runs…”
No, no, this makes no sense. What the Yankees really need to do is evaluate if this team is playoff caliber and it will happen based on the player’s performance, not the will to win. If the Yankees are good, this article is completely useless and irrelevant because New York is not going to try to lose between now and the summer. If they are not good they need to sell, sell, sell, as all bad and old teams should do to generate more youth, which he already recognized is a good solution. The Yankees are actually in a good position to do this because those seats are already paid for by corporations and aren’t filled by fans regardless.
“Yankee fans grow more tired, as more time passes since the one World Series the team has won in 15 years, despite a Biblical amount of money spent, of hearing about young guys who are a year, or two, or three away. Or when Bryce Harper might be coming to town.”
You know what else Yankees’ fans are tired of? Hearing about how old their team is and how they aren’t winning titles anymore despite spending biblical amounts of money. Personally, I think most fans want to see the young guys who are a year, or two, or three away, they would rather lose in-house than lose with a bloated payroll and a team where most players can’t go first to third on a single to right.
“And Yankee fans are really tired, already, of having the Mets not just take the play away from them, but throw fastballs and hit home runs and generally be more fun to watch.”
True, so Lupica’s solution of forcing the “Jurassic” All-Stars to win this year with no discernible solution yet as to how makes a lot of sense. We love watching Old Timers’ Day daily. Thanks, Mike. Hey, by the way, how did the Mets get good again?
Here is how he finishes:
“There is this notion around the Yankees that this is some kind of transitional season. From what and to what? And why? They wanted Tanaka for the long term, wanted Ellsbury for the long term, even though the Red Sox could never keep him on the field. These aren’t insane contracts like Rodriguez’s we’re talking about, out of the past. These are a couple of $150 million guys the Yankees signed a couple of years ago. And guess what? They made the kind of plays for Castro and Chapman that teams trying to win right now make.
So what’s stopping them?
I like the moves Cashman made this past winter, without throwing money around. But Chapman can leave after the season. If a guy like that wasn’t brought here to win now, then when?”
Let’s break this down one idiotic statement at a time. This is a rebuild, Mike. That’s what a transition is. They are transitioning from old and bad to young and better, that’s how good transitions work. And it doesn’t happen because Mike Lupica demands “Jurassic” All Stars play better in real life, it happens when you get younger and better.
And you are correct, Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury aren’t franchise crippling deals, hence why you can make this transition and rebuild even with those deals, but not the other four terrible deals. Also, Tanaka has played very well, why is he being brought into this?
Starlin Castro is controlled through 2020, he’s a deal for the present and future. Aroldis Chapman was brought on because nobody expected the Yankees to look like a last place team, and they may not be when all is said and done, but right now they seem to be. And in a worst case scenario, he will bring back a prospect at the deadline or a draft pick in the winter. Another move still beneficial for the future and a short-term commitment, which makes it weird he’s being mentioned to strengthen an argument about long-term commitments.
When you have a plan and it doesn’t work, you go to a second plan, you don’t just hope the first one works out. The Yankees have about 50 or 60 more games to figure out what their next move is, but it won’t be “packing the house” because Ellsbury was a bad contract two years ago.
Lupica knows better.
And Yankees’ fans should too.